Medical marijuana legal in Ill., state politicians respond

By Nate Nelson

On January 1, 2014, Illinois’ new medical marijuana law went into effect. These laws essentially have done what is assumed they would: provide prescribed medical marijuana to those that need it.

“Despite the new medical marijuana law, Illinois’ marijuana penalties remain harsh, and the state has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the nation,” the Marijuana Policy Project said on their website Jan. 30.

Many people in Illinois, including senators and representatives are not satisfied. Rep. Christian Mitchell and Sen. Iris Martinez have introduced legislation which is under review by the state and federal government at this moment.

Rep. Mitchell proposed HB 4299, which would reduce possession of marijuana in small amounts to a petty offense. The punishment for this type of offense would be only $100 and would eliminate jail time, according to Marijuana Policy Project.

Sen. Martinez is also lobbying legislation, which would add a specific form of epilepsy as a qualifying medical condition for the medical marijuana pilot program. In addition, Sen. Martinez advocated that minors with a prescription should be allowed to use medical marijuana. While many were excited for these new laws to come into effect once passed by the State of Illinois, the drafting of these newly engendered laws by the Department of Public Health caused disappointment, the Marijuana Policy Project said on their website.

The controversy of these draft bills lies in the federal government interfering with the state’s rights. When Colorado and Washington passed laws, which legalized both medical and recreational marijuana in 2012, the federal government interfered. As of the new year, the government will not be involved except in cases where marijuana is being sold to minors. However, a change of platforms has occurred; the Department of Public Health has decided to take matters into their own hands with the drafting of the legislation passed by Illinois, according to the Illinois Registrar.

A revision of the proposed state laws may be necessary. If the federal government wants to oversee those revisions it will be for the better. The admissions and deletions the Department of Health has created, which are disclosed on both their website and the State of Illinois’ government website, do not fulfill the aspirations of

Illinois representatives and senators. The Illinois Registrar disclosed the complete 48-page statement from the Department of Public Health. Within the statement, 42 different health problems can be prescribed medical marijuana including AIDS, post-concussion therapy, and Alzheimer’s disease.


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